Television

Nat Geo savours local flavour

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MUMBAI: The National Geographic Channel has received 125 entries from Indian documentary producers at NGCIdeas.com, the interactive website launched in January 2004 to act as an interface between the channel and producers.

The overwhelming domestic response to the international initiative launched by the NGC earlier this year, also underlines the channel's increasing tendency towards local flavour. After 2003's opus Mission Everest, the channel has this year roped in Bollywood star and martial arts exponent Akshay Kumar, to host a seven part series entitled The Seven Deadly Arts. NGC India's senior VP, content and communications Dilshad Master, insists that it is not an attempt to woo the masses to the niche infotainment channel, but acknowledges that the Kumar-anchored specials will bring in a wider viewer base.

Shot over 40 days, mostly in Manali (Himachal Pradesh) and occasionally in Mumbai, the bi-lingual (Hindi-English) TSDA has Kumar profiling each art, uncovering the myths, legends and spirituality behind each and their impact on day to day lives. The seven arts Kumar will introduce to viewers include karate and muay thai, which he practises, as well as aikido, kung fu, the Indian kalaripayattu, capoeira and taekwondo.

Master says a sequel to TSDA, another instance of localised programming, has already been planned for October - November this year, but is loath to reveal details. Leo Burnett, the agency which won a multi agency pitch to create a multi-media campaign for Everest last year, has again been engaged to formulate a similar advertising strategy for TSDA.

The series, to be telecast at 10 pm on Sundays, is aimed at the 6 to 60 demographic, asserts Master. Mission Mars, NGC India's last big series, that completes its 12 episode run this month, has already established the channel as a viewer friendly one and roping in Akshay Kumar gives NGC a 'familiar as well as credible' spokesperson, she says.

The NGCIdeas.com site was launched to keep a track of the hundreds of treatments, tapes and proposals that are received by the channel each week. The only way to submit a proposal to NGC is via the website.

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